Friday, February 29, 2008

Friends Don't Let Friends Date Gerbils

I have grown used to becoming a built-in excuse; I'm handy that way, especially as a roommate.  Since I don't drive, it is very easy for me to invent emergencies to drag my no longer unsuspecting and naive friends away from a danger they had been oblivious to before.
After all, if I'm home alone and bleeding out of my head, I can't very well hop Trax up to the hospital.  Too much of a safety hazard for other public transportation riders.  I'm very considerate that way.
This is why, I've decided, it's in a girl's best interest to live with a couple of other girls.  Or, at the very least, live close enough to a couple of other girls that they are around and have a stake in her lives.  Good friends are the best sort of BS detectors.
Back in the day, I dated a jerk.  A big jerk.  But thought I deserved to be treated badly, because I was having self-esteem issues.  It took several friends to break me out of my funk, but they were what did it: it wasn't my parents.  It wasn't strangers.  It was people who knew me well enough to know I didn't deserve what I was getting.  I listened--eventually. 
But as bad as jerks are, weirdos are far worse.  Apologies to the elder from my cute former roommate's mission who came up with this analogy for not seeking him out to obtain his express approval, but it's a great analogy.  So here goes (and bear in mind, this is a guy's analogy).
The majority of men are like gerbils and should be treated as such.  And every girl dates around and associates with a lot of gerbils.  After having dated a lot of gerbil gerbils, the gerbils send in a higher-echelon gerbil.  Because he's less of a gerbil than all of the previous gerbils, the girl decides to mate for life with the higher-echelon gerbil . . . only to discover later that he is, after all, still a gerbil.  The point, of course, is that girls shouldn't settle for any type of gerbil.
But sometimes it seems that gerbils are the only species of male left on the planet.  And when girls get desperate enough, they begin to think even gerbils will do.
That is why everyone must have friends.  Because friends are gerbil-smashers.  Or better, gerbil-hope smashers.  (I'm not by any means suggesting the best way to defeat the "gerbils" is to kill them.  I would also suggest there are female gerbils, and the gerbils would probably do much better to mate with their own kind.  Likeness factors, you know . . .)
So I would like to advocate: join your local gerbil watch! 
It needn't be very many people, but it should involve a group of people you know well.  Well enough that you can tell who is gerbil-ing them and who isn't.  And then use your imagination to invent all sorts of emergencies you can perpetrate in order to help your friend escape from any potentially threatening situation.
Also, as my former roommate and I have done, I highly suggest a code word for any watch member who may find themselves face to face with a gerbil in a compromising situation.
Remember: friends don't let friends date gerbils.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

An Apologia: On Being Single

Sometimes I think I live in the only place in the world where two things are impossible.  First, since I live within twenty miles of home, it is impossible for me to go anywhere without running into anyone I know from my childhood.  For crying out loud, I run into my professors (from Weber, for goodness sake!) at the downtown Smith's Marketplace.  I can go all the way out to Hale Centre Theater in West Valley . . . and run into three people I know from high school and at least two couples who were my Sunday School teachers.  I'm not kidding.
Second, it's impossible for most of my married friends and my parents' friends and basically any married people I know not to look on me without a certain degree of pity when they realize I'm fast approaching my 24th birthday and I'm (wipe away a tear) still single.  For those marrieds who love me, it's a puzzlement and a tragedy.  I'm not terrible looking, they reason, and I'm smart.  I have no obvious defects and I get along with 95% of the people I meet.
Some of them don't even realize they have that pity look and claim they loved their single days.  While I don't doubt it, there is always an an unspoken "but" lurking at the end of the sentence--". . . but marriage is so much better."
Most single women I meet believe their single-ness is a cause for woe.  Mourning.  Bitterness.  You name it.  I, on the other hand, enjoy being single.  It involves a measure of independence that marriage doesn't.  (After all, there are two people in a marriage.)  Right now, I don't have to report to anybody.  I don't have to cook for anybody else if I don't want to.  My money is spent or saved exclusively for me.  In short, I get to be selfish and self-centered in a lot of acceptable ways because I'm single.
And back to the independence factor: I just realized the other day that I don't really have to take anyone else into consideration when I figure out where to go to grad school.  (Provided any of the schools accept me, that is)  And thought I don't have to, I think my mom would be mad if I didn't take my parents--particularly her--into consideration.  Scratch "think," I know my mom would be mad.
Also, I could go on vacation any time I wanted.  I have income from a full-time job, days of paid leave, an ability to afford a ticket to anywhere in the United States, and a little bit of vacation money to blow on such things as vacation food and silly souvenirs.
Right now, I can do anything I want.  It's an exhilarating feeling.  I'm not pitiable--not pitiable at all.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

(Not) Lost in Transition

It's amazing to me to realize how movable a life can be.  More specifically, how movable and mutable my life can be.
Yesterday I woke up not feeling lovely, exactly, so I spent most of the morning in bed.  When I felt sufficiently recovered, I undertook a daunting task: I showered, pulled back my hair, and walked the two and a half blocks to clean my former apartment.
In a fallacy most would consider particularly pathetic, I felt like the clouds overhead signaled how I felt.  Slightly stormy and ready to clean a world.  (Okay, so perhaps ready to clean a microcosm of the world, since it would be a sad statement on my character if where I lived at any given time encompassed my whole world)
But when I arrived at the apartment, I realized how little attachment I felt to the place.  Everything that had occurred there in the past few months suddenly (and surprisingly--but undisturbingly) took on a surreal quality.  As though for the past seven and a half months, I had been living in some type of dream.
I didn't realize how completely detached I felt until I went into the room that was once mine and found myself examining the floor as if for the first time, reading the marks I found there: Oh yes, there are the outlines of the two shelves.  And there are the marks for my desk.  My bed rested in that corner.  I slept there, and then walked over there, if I wanted books.  And if I turned too quickly, I kicked the desk . . .
As I scrubbed the window, I found myself thinking about how this was the window I had gazed through to watch fireworks on the Fourth of July, when I hadn't know anyone well enough to bum a ride somewhere because my roommate had gone off with her family.
And the oddest thing of all: even though I could think of many things that had gone on in that place, none of them particularly seemed as though they had happened to me.  Remembering everything that went on there gave me the distinct feeling of remembering a story someone had once told me.
This is always the sign of a move I needed: the past slowly fades into the seeming intangible, and the present always seems most real.  And that, I think, is how it should be.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Classifying Life

Once upon a time, I worked as a writing tutor.  For our first semester, writing tutor newbies took a tutoring theory class.  As part of that class, we wrote entries for a blog.  I thought of this entry today, because it was all about boxes.
Today, I've been pondering boxes.  Sort of.  (I think about the oddest things when I'm bored at work . . .)
Actually, I have been thinking about compartmentalization and life, as well as compartmentalization in life.  And how in some ways, I like to classify people and things from my life into boxes.
When we were younger, my older sister would not eat if her food touched--that is, her spaghetti and her corn and her salad and all of the individual food items were not to fraternize or she would throw a fit and refuse to eat the food.  She's no longer like this, but if my mom would have used compartment-plates, it might not have been an issue.  But that's what I mean when I'm talking about compartmentalizing.
Today, I was trying to figure out how my attitude about life and the amount of compartmentalizing I am doing may or may not relate.  Am I more or less satisfied with my state of being when my spaghetti, corn, salad, and dessert are commingling?
So I have been analyzing my life, as I sift through paperwork and as I make sure all of the employees at my company are in their proper boxes.  Right now, I am not entirely satisfied with life.  And I have discovered it's neither because I'm boxing too many things nor is it because I'm allowing too many things to huddle together.
It's because I don't even have the ability to put some things into boxes, because the boxes are immaterial.  They're translucent.  They're not available for classification use or for me to ignore right now. 
In short, I haven't received dinner yet and therefore cannot know if it's properly separated or combined in a way I love.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Songs from My Life

It never ceases to surprise me that these guys sing the song I most identify with at any particular time of my life.  Like any good book reader, music lover, and recreational moviegoer, I believe my life has a soundtrack.  At definite moments, I know what song should be playing in the background and why . . .  Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know" for moments of quiet disorientation and a small amount of wanderlust; Radiohead's "Videotape" for moments of quiet just after saying a sweet, sad goodbye; Spamalot's "Song That Goes Like This" for moments when I realize people are together just to be together . . .
Anyway, back to the 70's country rock band.  (A country rock band?  Isn't that an oxymoron?  Hmm, maybe not in the days where Jennifer Nettles and Bon Jovi can make sweet, sweet music together--speaking of which, "Who Says You Can't Go Home?" frequently recurs when I find myself hopping a bus just to go talk to my mom)
The song that never ceases to apply.  And here we go:
I'm in a hurry to get things done, oh, I rush and rush until life's no fun
I don't know what, exactly, it is.  But I only seem to run on turbo and just-beyond-turbo-in-the-realm-of-blurriness speed.  I eat quickly, read quickly, shop quickly, walk quickly, and become impatient with those in the world who get in my way.
All I've really gotta do is live and die, but I'm in a hurry and don't know why
I honestly don't know why I'm in a hurry most of the time.  Sometimes I think it involves particular destinations; then, when I stop and think about it, I realize destination doesn't matter.  My shoes click against the sidewalk equally fast going to work and coming home, running to the grocery store or dropping by the Gateway's Barnes & Noble.  College was no different; neither was high school.
Don't know why I have to drive so fast, my car has nothing to prove; It's not new, but it'll 0-60 in 5.2
I don't drive.  And I don't know how many miles per hour I can actually get my legs to move, but I know my body has nothing to prove.  But that doesn't stop me from making it move as fast as I want and need it to.  Or as fast as I think I want and need it to.  Sometimes I wonder if my speed isn't sometimes based on an adrenaline rush.
I'm in a hurry to get things done . . .
Sometimes a "now" mindset can get a body in trouble.  Immediacy is not necessary as often as I think.  In fact, sometimes things need to wait.  And I need to remember, too, good things can happen when I'm standing still.
Can't be late, I leave in plenty of time, shakin' hands with the clock
I hate being late; I also tend to have an initial distaste for people who do not particularly mind being late.  My clock and I don't shake hands, because far too often I look at it and promptly run away.  Even when it's not close to stroking midnight and there are no masked balls happening.
I'm on a roll and I'm ready to rock
Speed is dangerous and addictive, particularly to someone with a good sense of rhythm.  I don't know if I'll be able to explain this well, but all my days have a rhythm and pace to them.  So when I'm think of a day as being "fast" or "slow," this is a literal way (for me, anyway) of describing my day.  Fast days involve a lot of movement.  Slow days involve a lot of lethargy.  Time moves more quickly on fast days--seems to, anyway; time almost seems to stop on slow days.  Fast days--I'm on a roll, nothing can stop me, and I'll do anything just to keep my rhythm up.
I'm in a hurry to get things done . . .
And things that can't be done in a hurry usually frustrate me.  I like to see results now.  Makes certain aspects of office jobs frustrating.
I hear a voice, it says I'm running behind, I better pick up my pace
Natalie Goldberg calls voices in your head like this "inner critics."  Of course, she's talking about negative voices people hear as they're writing.  But I think my inner critic has a need--a need for speed--that isn't satisfied until I arrive, breathless, wherever I need to be.
It's a race and there ain't no room for someone in second place
I've definitely felt this race sensation, but what I can never rationally figure out is this: Who am I racing?  A version of me from ages past?  Other people who are headed to the same final destination?  Life as a race is a ridiculous concept, because no two people are living exactly the same life (no matter what Ray Bradbury may think).  Actual races involve a great deal of objectivity; different lives are inherently subjective.
Not only that, but we're all running in different races.
I'm in a hurry to get things done . . .
I honestly think I've got to do more in life than live and die, but it's true: I'm in a hurry and don't know why.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Grad School Anxieties

I got so excited when I started my lunch break this afternoon and found an e-mail from Boston University in my inbox. "Hooray!" I thought, "Someone is finally getting back to me!"

Imagine my chagrin when I discovered the e-mail reported they had lost one of my recommendation letters. I kid you not! The e-mail essentially said, "The below item/s are missing:" then listed "Two recommendations letters: we have one from Prof. Tutor." Two sentences later, the writer admitted that the other letter had likely been lost or misplaced by the University. Do I, by chance, have a soft copy.

Sigh. I forwarded it to my advisor, who had written me a rather nice letter (he called and read it to me before he shipped it off), and I'm praying he kept a soft copy.

The next time I see information from a school, may it be an acceptance or a rejection. I'm beginning to not care which, though I certainly favor acceptances. I just want the closure!

Monday, February 18, 2008

In the Land of the Bibliophiles

I have moved.

All of my books are unpacked, and anyone who knows me knows that my books must be unpacked before anything else can be unpacked.  Priorities, you know.

My two new roommates are both cute, fabulous, and also completely in love with the written word.  If you would have walked into the living room of our apartment last night, you would have seen the three of us curled up in various corners.  Reading.

I discovered we can talk about books for a long, long time.  And not agree about some of them.  And not be really angry at each other for not agreeing; we're all reasonable people and we respect that we have different tastes than each other.  (My roommate respects that I enjoy Victorian literature, and I won't mock her taste in supernatural avenues of chick lit.  To each her own, I say.)

They don't find it odd that to give myself incentive to unpack, I allow myself to read a chapter and then I make myself unpack a box.  They both liked my Harry Potter blanket, proving their excellent taste in things with which to keep myself warm.  And, in completely unrelated news, they are also addicted to the BBC version of Robin Hood.  In short, I don't see myself having any problems getting along with these girls.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Look-Alikes of the Un-Evil Variety

I've been searching high and low for a Ray Bradbury short story I read forever and twenty years ago.  (All right, so it was probably five to ten years ago, but why can't a girl engage in a little hyperbole now and then?)  Anyway, the main character is looking through a bunch of old yearbooks and he keeps finding himself in the pages.  Not, that is, that he attended a bunch of different high schools.  He just keeps finding exact look-alikes who had the same looks and the same apparent personality (they participated in the same activities, showed up in the same types of candids, etc.).
This story, I admit, intrigued and disturbed me.  I found it fascinating to think there might be another me somewhere else.  And I found it disturbing because I like to think of myself as being so unique there's absolutely no possibility of another person being remotely like me.  But apparently I have a twin, of sorts, in Taiwan.  Or so my friend Steve tells me.  And I usually believe what Steve says.  You should visit his blog.  It's the GreenTaiwan link.
Anyway, I found it mildly amusing--and also frustratingly disarming--he had traveled halfway around the world to find himself in the company of someone who remind him of me.  What can I say?  I guess I'm a bit of an egotist . . .  Besides, who wants a doppelganger?  Whether the doppelganger is actually an evil twin or not?
And here's the part where I get a tad confessional: she, too, keeps a blog.  Steve has a link to her blog on his blog.  And I began to peruse her blog in order to find out all of the possible ways she could not be like me.  But after scanning her blog, I could only reach one conclusion: this girl is much, much cooler--and I can only be flattered she reminded Steve of me.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Books on the Move

The first time I ever moved out of my parents' house, I was relocating myself to Provo.  Packing, in those days, provided a thrill.  It symbolized freedom, independence . . . and only involved six boxes or so.  I'm not kidding.  Since BYU kindly provided me with a bed for the entirety of my freshman year (although I tried incredibly hard not to think of all the microbes that could be living in the mattress and all of the people who had slept there before I had), I didn't need to worry about moving furniture.  Just clothes.  And books. 
Back then, I had a decent-sized library.  Larger than anyone else my age I knew, but not so huge as to be steadfastly immovable.  Still, I didn't move many of my books because colleges have libraries.  Libraries--big ones--have books I've never read.  And they let me borrow them for free (provided I return them, of course--Roommate who will only be Roommate until Saturday has a brother--who I mentioned before--who believes public libraries are another way for the government to control our lives and that one of the first steps to having a better-functioning society is to privatize public libraries . . . but that's another subject for another day)
Neither of my two BYU moves (from home to Heritage Halls and then from home to Deseret Towers) required much packing or unpacking.  And then moving home proved a cakewalk.  But then I stayed comfortably home for four years and I acquired a lot of stuff. Some shoes.  Quite a few more books.  Still, when I moved into my friends' condo, I only had eight boxes.  Nine when I moved back home again.  (You guessed it: more books)
When Roommate and I moved to Salt Lake, it required so much more effort.  Eight boxes had only books in them.  Two boxes were completely devoted to shoes.  My clothes had somehow managed to multiply and replenish.  And this time, my bed and bookshelves and desk all moved with me.
The packing for this move began in earnest on Saturday.  Ten boxes now occupy a corner of the living room in my current apartment.  One of them is destined for the D.I.  (Does it have books in it?  No!!  How dare you think such a thing?  Sacrilege!!  But everyone should be proud: it does contain two pairs of shoes I've barely worn.)  The other nine are labeled: "Books and Clothes."  (I received a lecture after the condo move about packing more than one layer of books into a box.  My dad claims I forever affected his back by making him move forty-million pound boxes of books.)  Also "Books and Miscellaneous," "More Books and Clothes," "More Books and Knick-Knacks," "More Books and Miscellaneous" . . . you get the idea.
If I get my wish for moving out of state to go to graduate school, I might have to leave the books behind.  Or else I'll have an incredibly interesting move.  (Do they have a name for a person who feels separation anxiety when deprived of her books too long?)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Destination Certain

The First Great Apartment Hunt of 2008 has reached a successful resolution.  In fact, the place I will reside starting February 16 should receive some type of superlative award: it's bigger, better, and cheaper than where I currently reside.  It's appliance-er (okay, it's not a word, but . . .) because it has a washer and dryer that aren't coin-operated AND a dishwasher.  No more scrubbing!!  It's bibliophile-er, because my two roommates are both book lovers who periodically host writing groups.  And it's in my ward.  My records need not go anywhere, though I should probably remember to inform ward leadership about the change of address.
My mom, seizing an opportunity to take advantage of my excitement about this situation, suggested this was a good place to put down some roots.  I believe my reaction ran something like this: "Heh heh."  She keeps saying she's not earnestly lobbying for me to stay in Utah until she knows other schools have accepted me, but if her attempts of late are un-earnest lobbying, I have a certain fear of what earnest lobbying will be like.
In other news, I went out to lunch with my dad today.  He asked if I'd looked at the cost of living in any of the places I'd applied and I told him it wasn't a worry till it was a worry.  Meaning, I'm not looking at such stuff until I know which schools accept me (if any) and which schools say "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.  Or apply to a different university."  As I pointed out, advance planning implies having necessary planning information.  And I don't yet.  Won't for another four weeks.
I told him that it seemed to me that my living in a city seems pretty inevitable to me.  Mass transit, cultural events, spectacular libraries.  Those random little stores, not to mention the dives, that you just can't find in suburbia.  "You know," he said, "Salt Lake is finding ways to improve itself as a city like that."  He'd made a similar remark on Sunday, just "to get hubby points."
"Dad," I said.  "Mom can't hear you."
"I know," he said.  "But I can tell her that at lunch, I encouraged you to stick around."
I no longer wonder where I learned to twist words.  My mom taught me how to have fun with them.  My dad taught me how to make them, literally, what I want them to mean.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Change in Venue and Question

When my roommate told me we would both be moving by the end of this month, I admit I felt a certain surge of panic.  Who can find a reasonable place to live in a month?  We looked for a month and a half before we settled on the apartment we currently live in--a search time span that always saddened me when I thought about just how ghetto our apartment can be.  And how much nicer (albeit slightly more expensive) many of the places we looked were.
Anyway, I thought my options would be slim.  I preferred to stay in the boundaries of this ward.  This is the first singles ward I've fallen in love with.  Or maybe just deep, deep like.  Everyone is nice, everyone has their own brand of quirkiness they don't deny, and everyone gets along with everyone.  Seriously--with this ward, gone are the things of my past wards: the back-biting in order to win the favor of the Most Eligible New Male, the gossiping, the outright disagreement between people, the cliques.
I'm officially no longer worried about the move or staying in ward boundaries as I move.  Apparently, quite a few girls in my ward are in the market for a roommate.  I looked at a house on Wednesday--nice, with my own room--but the room wouldn't be able to fit my bed, my desk, my bookshelves and me if I ever wanted to close the door.  Or, for that matter, have room for maneuvering.
As soon as I left that appointment, I heard about another girl in the ward looking for a roommate.  Her sister and current roommate is biting the dust (i.e. getting married, not dying) and she has an open room.  It would fit my desk, my bookshelves, my bed, and me with plenty of room for maneuvering.  But her sister isn't moving until the end of March and I'm being booted at the end of this month.  My parents agreed to be an in-between stop, if necessary.
And this is the thing about Option 2: she turned around and started talking to me before Relief Society a couple of weeks ago, and I had a definite voice in my head tell me I would get to know her better.  When I heard she was looking for a roommate, I thought, "Is that what that meant?"  Or was I being inspired to just be chummy with a girl I already thought fabulous?
Facebook, I must say, is a magical thing.  I resisted joining for a long time, because so many people were joining and I always hate doing something just because everybody else does.  That's just such a lame reason for doing anything . . .  but I caved and joined a while back.  Upon learning of the move, my status line changed shortly thereafter to "Em's moving on, so I'm moving out."  It was a subtle send-up to a Billy Joel song and expressed what I needed to, but oh dear! it caused a panicked ripple effect among girls in the ward.
And as a bonus, option 3 sent a message this morning mentioning a vacant room in her apartment.  So now I find myself with a difficult decision, indeed, and it isn't of the where-in-the-heck-do-I-live variety.  No, it's:
Who in the heck do I choose to live with?